“Evangelical College Fires Distinguished Professor for His Orthodoxy”
We are all familiar with conservative professors being cancelled or fired by secular universities. But now an evangelical college is doing something very similar. Chicago’s North Park University, sponsored by the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), has recently dismissed one of its most distinguished professors for holding to the ECC’s binding resolution on marriage and sexuality. The resolution affirms celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in heterosexual marriage.
Dr. Bradley Nassif is an internationally recognized and widely-published scholar, a leading expert in Eastern Orthodox-evangelical dialogue. The New York Times has described him as a “leader of the [Eastern Orthodox] religion.” Recently the Washington Post featured Dr. Nassif in a story about the Ukraine War. Dr. Nassif taught at North Park for seventeen years in its Christian Studies Department, and has been at its highest rank, full Professor, since 2007.
Currently Dr Nassif is suing the university for breach of contract. He was among four tenured faculty fired when the university closed its Christian Studies Department in May 2021 without consulting properly with the faculty senate, in violation of its own governing documents. The American Association of University Professors (AUUP) charged in a letter to the North Park administration that it violated academic freedom when it dissolved the department. The administration claimed that it closed the department because of low enrollment patterns despite outside consultants saying the department was strong and income-generating.
Oddly, North Park hired back all the tenured professors except Nassif in 2022. Not coincidentally, Nassif was the only faculty member to say publicly that the school’s curriculum should always include the ECC’s orthodox policy when teaching about marriage. Other faculty argued that the ECC policy was “disrespectful” and “outdated.” Members of the administration said Nassif was not suited for the academy because his views of marriage were “too extreme.” The faculty senate decided to exclude the ECC view of marriage from the curriculum, and the president of the university accepted this decision.
Nassif pleaded to be rehired with the other tenured professors on the grounds that his wife was in Stage 4 cancer and he needed to support her. The university claimed that it did not have a position suited to his expertise, yet it continued to use adjuncts to offer the courses that Nassif had taught.
A former provost (chief academic officer) of the university has testified publicly that faculty and administrators conspired to get rid of Nassif because he was getting in the way of transitioning the curriculum away from an orthodox view of marriage.
Parents and grandparents should think twice about evangelical colleges when considering where to send their children and grandchildren. Not all evangelical colleges teach the “faith once for all delivered to all the saints” (Jude 3).